Friday, February 27, 2009

Is it quitting time?

So I'm watching this show where there's an interview with a man I only knew as an actor. Turns out he's actually a singer and songwriter too. I was impressed and admired him all the more. He isn't an 'A-Lister' so to speak, but I always thought he had a strong screen presence about him. At the end of the short (and poorly conducted) interview, it is announced that the singer/songwriter will perform a song after the break. 'What a treat,' I thought.

I thought wrong. So very wrong.

It was painful to listen to. My heart hurt for him. He may have just been having an off night, but the sour performance, complete with missed notes on his solo acoustic guitar, made me think about how we sometimes hold on to who or what we were long past the prime. For some, it might be a sport they use to play exceedingly well. For others, like my friend on the tube there, a musical instrument. And then I wondered something that made my heartache a bit more personal; what am I still holding on to?

I know I've had my revelations about poetry so I'm not worried about that. But what about my abilities as a designer? Will those skills wane as visual languages and creative tools evolve? Will there come a point in my career where I'll have to bow out of the design arena making room for a new generation of artist? Most alarmingly, will I know when it's quitting time?

Taking a closer look at my buddy on stage there, I observed the special connection he had with his soulful lyrics, his stealthy black guitar, the 'folk' in his voice. There was no sell-by date on his ability to put life to letters and sorrow to song. He's always done this. He'll always do this. And it doesn't matter if he's performing for a sold out crowd, or a intimate audience of what must be his adorable grandchildren. It's in him. It is him.

Thinking better of my woeful wonders, I decided not to concern myself with the struggles of holding on to that which should be let loose. I can't lose love for something that has enriched the line of my life no more than I can lose the chocolate pigment of my skin. I love expressing myself through design. I love it beyond a mastery of design tools or fluency of visual languages. And if I lose my seat at the world's table, discarded as irrelevant, then I'll put my own t-shirt on my back, hang my own illustration on my wall, and recline to twenty pages of my own book of poems.

For who I am is design and rhyme. And shall be long past quitting time.